The First Dark Sky Town in Europe

This is a positive landmark for our region and puts Moffat on a thinking person’s tourist map along with the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. We’ve finally got the funding (£3k) from the Council’s Tourism budget to update the signs on the 3 main road entrances to the town.

The signs are to have a new posts replacing the old, new ‘Welcome to the Dark Sky Town of Moffat’ and ‘Twinned with Montreuil sur Ille’ signs to replace current signs .The 30mph signs will be replaced with internally illuminated (LED) 30mph signs.

Anyone who says “this is a total waste of tax payers money” is an idiot – this is a relatively small spend for a potentially big reward in terms of profile, visitors, local pride, reduced light pollution, and economic regeneration.

Lochmaben Gardens Competition

Prizes were awarded for the various Gardens Categories on Monday night at Lochmaben Town Hall. Some great displays can be seen if you get the chance to look around the town, you’ll can only be impressed at how much work and care people have put in. This event is funded by the George Hunter Trust on which I sit and as Trustees we have worked to make sure that the financial health of the investments can provide for many years to come. I maybe should have shaved my not-so-fashionable beard thing off as I ended up pecking the cheeks of all the female prize-winners in slightly European fashion.

Taxi Card Scheme in Moffat

I’ve now spoken with Council officers – all licensed taxi operators in Dumfries and Galloway were written to ask if they wished to participate in the Taxi Card scheme and all those who responded positively are listed here.

Moffat Taxis were included in this but as yet have not opted to participate. However all licensed operators, including Moffat Taxis, can join the scheme at any time.

I spoke directly to Moffat Taxis to ask why they didn’t participate in this scheme. They explained that, although they understand that it can be helpful to users with taxi cards, there was not the volume or regularity of fares to justify being part of the scheme for the additional administration it brings for the business.

Hope this helps clarify the position on both sides, even if not ideal for some taxi card users.

B7068 road from Lockerbie to Langholm

Ewe Hill wind farm (Planning Ref 04/C/4/0005) was a Section 36 application determined by the Scottish Ministers. There were conditions specially put in place to deal with traffic issues in relation to the public road network:

Condition 2.22 required the following:

(a) details of road strengthening/overlay works, carriageway widening (to a nominal 6 metres), and appropriate retention measures at the edge of the public road to be provided on the B7068 between the proposed Site access and Grange Quarry;
(b) details of culverting of the ditch at the Site access point on the B7068;
(c) details of road strengthening/overlay works at locations of weak construction on the B7068 between the proposed Site access and Lockerbie; and
(d) details of any measures (e.g. curve/junction improvements, bridge/culvert strengthening, etc) necessary to accommodate any abnormal loads on the public road network along the planned haulage route.

In practice what’s happened is that the developer sourced most of their materials from Grange Quarry which is virtually across the road; a temporary batching plant was erected within Grange to accommodate the concrete pours. As a result, other than the short length of B7068 between Grange and the wind farm access, there was a lot less traffic generation on B7068 than potentially could have been the case.

The developer is paying the Council to resurface the section of B7068 between the wind farm access and Grange Quarry, which is welcome but doesn’t go far enough – there are vehicles ploughing into bankings and verges on the way out of Lockerbie, causing damage to the edge of the road and concern to residents who are already seeing an increased amount of timber lorries and quarry traffic. I’ve contacted Planning and also the Director in charge of Roads and road repairs to get assurances that any damage caused in relation to the development will be made good.

South of Scotland Alliance (SOSA)

SOSA is meeting with all the South Scotland MSPs on 28th September in Edinburgh to brief them on the Rural Economic Development Programme, push for progress on Superfast Broadband and Mobile Phone Coverage, and look at how to deal with Brexit, especially since the NUTS2 case was successfully made with both Scottish and UK Parliaments before the infamous EU Referendum outcome. There will also be a push to pilot Rural Infrastructure development in the south of Scotland within this term of Government.

Obviously a key concern is the impact to regional development funding and support for CAP payments, European Social Funds and Structural Investment Funds, but I tried to raise the flag for Human Rights and protection of workers rights as something SOSA could take a position on. Money is not the only thing that benefits the 300,000 people in the South of Scotland – in an unequal society businesses may prosper but at the expense of their staff’s rights and security. Interestingly a conservative voice from the Borders suggested that “British Democracy” would determine how to protect people. I don’t have any faith that it will.




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